2021: Dulacca (Queensland) – Turbidity, Salinity

Western Downs towns like Dulacca have no clean water and residents are fed up

Sep 28 2021


Clean drinking water from the tap is a basic amenity not afforded to the small drought-affected community of Dulacca on Queensland’s Western Downs.

Instead, its water scheme supplies untreated water from a saline bore or turbid creek to the town’s 200 residents.

“We’re like the forgotten town,” resident Cherelle Manuel said.

On some days the water tastes muddy. On others it smells like “cat pee” and sulphur, she said.

‘Forgotten’ small towns

Ms Manuel relies on what little rainwater falls on the roof and she rations it so tightly she cannot even bathe in clean water.

More than half of Western Downs Regional Council towns do not have access to a potable water scheme.

Dulacca Hotel owner and Progress Association president Natalie Scotney said her community had asked the council for clean water since 2009.

“There is an enormous number of towns in the shire that don’t have potable water supply, and it’s not good enough,” she said.

The most recent petition to the council prompted an investigation into alternative water supplies for towns with non-potable schemes.

The report concluded potable water supply options for small communities such as Dulacca were too expensive.

It estimated a desalination plant at the local bore would cost an initial $1.5 million and carting water from the nearby town of Miles would cost nearly $350,000 a year.

Rainwater the viable option

Council last week voted to accept the report and its finding that rainwater tanks were the only viable option for these small townships.

“With such a small number of people connected to the water out there it would end up costing more for the region than what these people realise, and they would also be hit up for additional costs,” councillor and utilities spokesperson Peter Saxelby said.

Instead, the council has expanded an existing subsidy for rainwater tanks by offering a $2,000 rebate on tanks with more than 40,000 litres of capacity.

According to the council, the scheme added 3.2 million litres of additional water supply to the region in the last financial year.